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Technology & Innovation

Space Entrepreneurs!

While space exploration seems like a job only for companies with enormous resources, NASA is increasingly turning to small businesses for innovative ideas in exchange for research contracts.

What’s the Latest Development?

NASA is actively recruiting small businesses to help with some of its biggest projects. The space agency’s Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) recently selected 79 small companies across 27 states to help conduct space research for which it will doll out $63 million. “NASA’s SBIR programs address technology gaps in agency missions, while striving to complement other agency research investments.” In addition to helping NASA, businesses stand to make products that can succeed in commercial markets.

What’s the Big Idea?

Recent results from NASA’s SBIR program have included contributions to modern air-traffic control systems, Earth-observing spacecraft, the International Space Station and the Mars rovers. Winning projects in the latest round of funding include “a new composite material manufacturing process, which could decrease manufacturing costs for NASA’s future heavy-lift launch vehicles and new high-performance lubricants beneficial to robotic spacecraft in extreme temperatures.”

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